Before the 2012 African Cup of Nations, some outsiders identified the tournament as the possible undoing of a small squad which had over-achieved in the first half of the season.
Newcastle won two of their three league games while Senegal strikers Ba and Cissé were away, as well as winning one, losing one in the FA Cup.
Ivorian Tioté missed two more in the league, one won, one lost.
There will be another African Cup next year but Senegal failed to qualify, meaning only Tioté and possibly new Nigeria cap Shola Ameobi are likely to be away during its duration.
Hatem Ben Arfa picked up a hamstring injury in the disappointing 1-1 draw with Maritimo and Cissé left the field with a thigh problem. Neither is as bad as first feared, although Ben Arfa seems certain not to make the trip to the South Coast.
“I am frustrated because I think the impact last night of Ben Arfa’s injury knocked us all a little bit,” Pardew commented. “I felt it at half-time and even in myself, there was disappointment.
“Not because he is that important to us but on the back of Colo (the suspended Coloccini) not being available, (Yohan) Cabaye missing and obviously Cissé’s situation last weekend (when Senegal invoked Fifa’s ‘Five-Day Rule’ to stop him facing Swansea City after being ruled out of the previous international game), it seems to be a series of blows.
“You know I am frustrated with that and frustrated we are not playing well.”
There is some light at the end of the tunnel, however.
“Hatem isn’t far away,” Pardew said of his best player this season. “I think a couple of weeks and he will be okay. Cissé should be okay. Jonás (Gutiérrez) trained (yesterday) and Perchy (James Perch) too, so I have a little bit better news.”
Cabaye, Ameobi (both groin), Gabriel Obertan (toe), Dan Gosling, Haris Vuckic, Ryan Taylor and Adam Campbell (all knee) remain on the sidelines, so there is even a place in the squad for Nile Ranger. A booking for Gutiérrez tomorrow will compound matters; Newcastle would pick up their fourth suspension in five weeks.
Meanwhile, Australian centre-back Curtis Good could make his Bradford City debut at Bristol Rovers today, having joined the League Two side on loan until January 2.